george lejeunesse, freaking out squares since 2009

25 Aug

I should start by saying that it was gut-wrenching just now to look at what search terms brought people to my blog in the past three days, #1 being “jane schaffer died.” Because she did. And so it goes.

I’ve been working on a post about naming and names, unsuccessfully. It’s languishing in my drafts now, having been deleted and rewritten and deleted again, then mumbled out through my fingers, still unsatisfactory for public consumption. The time is coming — has come and gone, some would argue — to give George a Hebrew name. There was no recently deceased person to honor, but now there is, and that’s kind of that. We’ve already discussed the other part of the naming ceremony that we won’t be inflicting (that’s right, inflicting) on our boy and when the whole thing is said and done I’ll be glad to have it over with.
Naming, which I’ve always taken a special delight in, has been an unforeseen area of conflict where George is concerned. While I know I’m not the only one who gets grilled about her kid’s name(s), it seems that people who would otherwise just smile politely at what they consider a stodgy moniker see an open door for debate when it comes to George’s last name. Which is my last name. Which is not his father’s last name. GASP, CHOKE, how could you immasculate your husband — WAIT HE’S NOT EVEN YOUR HUSBAND?!?!?!? that way?
If you only knew, stranger in the grocery line, what other misdeeds I’m capable of.
There are lots of reasons we chose George. My abiding love of George Balanchine, of George Fayne, of Georgia Hubley. The two real, quality people in my life named George and the fact that they are entirely different people with vastly different interests, personalities and body types but both are unmistakably George. Singer as a middle name followed easily, for, dear reader, when you birth this:

It can only be seen as a sign to name him after your favorite writer, your favorite Pole, your favorite Yid and Pulitzer Prize-winning, superstitious, rice pudding-loving sometimes-curmudgeon:

These names are acceptable for most people, charming for some and stodgy for others, but the most common response is “I have a great-uncle named George!” Familiar but not common. Comfortable, I hope.
Sometimes, though. Sometimes people want to hear the whole shebang, to see if it has that certain ring. Does it rival the ring of Kaydynze Austyn Danger (haha; get it?!) Johnson? So I accomodate them. “Your husband must be French!” They say. And then, oh then.
Well, actually, it’s MY last name. (And here, for your reading enjoyment, a conversation that took place at Target, potentially in the same line where a woman who’d just given her toddler a swig of soda asked me Is that one of those slings that kills babies?)
Stranger: Oh, God bless you. Being a single mother must be so hard at your young age (…thanks?)
Me: I’m not a single mother. I have a partner. We just chose to give George my last name.
Stranger: …And your…PARTNER? He didn’t mind?
Me: No more than I’d have minded.
Stranger: Are there lots of boys in his family?
Me: Nope!
Stranger: Why didn’t you hyphenate it? Lots of people are doing that now.
Me: Um, it’s kind of cumbersome…
Stranger: Well, good luck to you! (Shakes head)

And you, I said, though I wanted so badly to throw that three-pack of wipes at her head as she lumbered away.


3 Responses to “george lejeunesse, freaking out squares since 2009”

  1. Randi August 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    haha.. “Freaking out squares”!

    Challenging people’s assumptions and supposed traditions might feel cumbersome at times but it’s also kind of fun, isn’t it? It’s funny how people respond to such personal choices… especially when both you and Nathan are in agreement about it!

  2. Autumn August 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    People are very thrown by me not having the same last name as Nolie… I never took Charlie’s last name (and might never). It is incredible what people deem as horrifying (sling: CHECK target pizza? eh, safe).


  1. tradition! « very, very fine - December 14, 2010

    […] talked a little bit about George’s naming ceremony, or brit shalom, in the past, but it, like his […]

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